NUERTINGEN, Germany (Reuters) - European Central Bank executive board member Joerg Asmussen said on Tuesday there were more downside risks to a recovery in the euro zone economy in the second half of the year than there were one or two months ago.
His comments will reinforce expectations that the ECB is getting ready to cut interest rates after President Mario Draghi said last week the bank would “monitor very closely” all incoming economic data and stood “ready to act”.
And while Draghi stuck to the ECB’s assessment that the euro zone economy would begin to recover in the second half of the year, Asmussen took a slightly more downbeat view.
“There are more downside risks to a recovery in the second half of the year than four or eight weeks ago,” Asmussen said during a visit to the town of Nuertingen, in southern Germany.
There was no sign of inflationary pressure at the moment, he said, but added that the ECB would act “immediately” if this were to change.
Recent data on the euro zone has indicated that economic weakness was spreading to the currency bloc’s core countries from the crisis-stricken periphery, with France in particular deteriorating as high unemployment weighs on consumer spending.
There have been growing calls, from Spain for example, for more support from the ECB to revive growth, but Asmussen stressed the bank’s independence, saying the central bank was not “a silver bullet for all economic-political problems”.
Reporting by Eva Kuehnen and Ilona Wissenbach; Editing by Susan Fenton